Digital Common Law

I am announcing the formation of the Digital Common Law Institute.

Welcome to Common Law 2.0

Our primary purpose is to provide a forum for hackers and lawyers to meet and discuss what sort of attributes we need in digital common law.

What is Digital Common Law?

Digital common law is something that doesn’t yet exist. It is an entirely new concept born from the revolution in cryptological currencies. Bitcoin and especially Ethereum provide us with an opportunity to formally digitize contractual agreements. As these contracts grow in complexity and methods of arbitrage emerge, we foresee the emergence of what we call Common Law 2.0.

We see many similarities between today and the beginning of the Renaissance. That period of time marked the end of the Dark Ages and was the birth place of our current corpus of common law. We call this Common Law 1.0. Our purpose here is to build upon this rich body of common law and bring it into the modern peer-to-peer context. Our hope is that hackers and lawyers will find this site (institute) a constructive forum to work through the complexities.

Why have an Institute?

Because hackers and lawyers don’t typically meet, our intention at the institute is to facilitate these conversations and provide a discussion forum.


  • ddink7ddink7 Member Posts: 49
    I'm not a lawyer or a hacker, but I am a historian so I could possibly be of help. Will be sure to check it out!
  • crabelcrabel Member Posts: 2
    Thank you for your interest. Please stop on by. I am neither a hacker or a lawyer either. I'm an engineer. So we aren't very restrictive... The other co-founder is an attorney.
  • BitCongressBitCongress Member Posts: 5
  • rmsamsrmsams Member Posts: 10
    I like the idea. Haven't put much thought into it but what seems to be the nexus is trust in dispute mediators. Contracts agree on mediator ex-ante and include him in the contract in some M-of-N signature way, and that agreement is secured because of reputation for fairness in application of rules/standards the parties deem relevant to their contract. Opinions of dispute resolution will need to be published to some extent, in order for mediator to build that trust. The Law and Economics literature has allot to add here, and eventually Ethereum will have allot to add to it. For example, will parties tend to choose mediators that calculate damages according to the principle of "efficient breach"? Will be cool to see what people actually choose, a sort of empirical jurisprudence.
  • LobbeltLobbelt Member Posts: 2
    I am a (Belgian) lawyer in finance and very interested in the possibilities Ethereum (and by extension cryptocurrencies) offers regarding smart contracts etc. I hope I can make a valuable contribution to the Digital Common Law Institute (even though I am, strictly speaking, a civil law lawyer). :-)
  • w0bb1yBit5w0bb1yBit5 Member Posts: 17
    >what seems to be the nexus is trust in dispute mediators...
    This. How do pseudononymous bots/persons who value their privacy choose a pseudononymous bot/person mediator? Game theory suggests that some mediators are playing the short-con, others the long-con, and all of them have equal ability to poison the reputation well. The promise of a digital common law may well be in the elimination of judges. Because transactions are anonymous and irrevocable, the "Law" is the smart contract. "Mediation" is simply the extension of the smart contract to handle edge cases. E.g., "if x,y, and z then compute payment based on efficient breach algorithm, else...". In the Digital Common Law there may be no disputes, for the parties are merely secret keys executing a protocol over the interwebs. The protocol terminates and that is what passes for Justice.
  • StephanTualStephanTual London, EnglandMember, Moderator Posts: 1,282 mod
    I'm building a Skype channel focusing on this very topic. Anyone wanting to join please PM me and I'll send you the details.
  • TuskTusk Member Posts: 33
    edited February 2014
    Like a decentralized company register, we should develop a decentralized patent register. This will allow for the innovation of new royalty models that are far more flexible, that support micro royalties etc. I would like to assist in the development of such models. I think by creating this framework we will accelerate the development and growth in the math based currency arena.
  • StephanTualStephanTual London, EnglandMember, Moderator Posts: 1,282 mod
    Patent is indeed another vertical that could be disrupted. Trusted Timestamping has been done on the blockchain before ( but contracts could take it to a whole new level.
  • TuskTusk Member Posts: 33
    edited February 2014
    creating the framework for patent/copy-rite DAO models will be a powerful driver of ecosystems.
  • SusanneSusanne Member Posts: 1
    Ursium please add me to the Skype channel, I'm writing a book on the topic. Skype ID: susanne_tarkowski
  • TuskTusk Member Posts: 33
    Hi Ursium, please add me to the Skype channel tusk.bilasimo
  • Karl_SchroederKarl_Schroeder Member Posts: 37 ✭✭
    It's a cliche of technology development that a new technology is always initially used as a fancy way of doing something you already do, and only later people realize you can do something entirely new with it. So, gramophones and telephones were conceived of as a way of transmitting political speeches to the masses, and only later were thought of as a way of sharing music. In the present context, I wonder whether the rabbit-hole is deep enough that you need to consider that you might be working on a *replacement for law itself,* rather than a new way of executing existing legal principles.

    Apologies--I tend to think big.
  • w0bb1yBit5w0bb1yBit5 Member Posts: 17
    Karl_Schroeder - I do not think you are so far off. Decentralized contracting requires a full rethinking of the "medium scale" law. Principals of fairness, quid pro quo, caveat emptor may remain at the "big scale", and concepts of deposit, rent, title, escrow, lien, etc may remain at the "low level". But everywhere current legal principles have a conditional branch, "and then a man with a gun puts you in a cage", or "and then a judge/jury of your peers awards you a pile of money" goes away. A business contract lawyer today may tell you that a good contract will keep you out of court. The new business contract lawyer will tell you a good smart contract will keep you out of bankruptcy.
  • garygary Member Posts: 6
    To quote Karl_Schroeder
    " a replacement for law itself "

    In my opinion law as we know it will not exist, in this great new world of DACs/ or what ever they become known as.
    DACs Will only define there own laws when they exist? Its like the internet in the beginning, did we have any laws then? No we didn't, how long was it for Cyberlaw to become law of the internet.
    A long time after, so as i have said law only defines itself after the fact.
    What you have to think about in are brave new DAC world, is the use of words to tell and explain to people what a DAC is.
    I remember reading on the Invitus website, someone said be careful on your choice of words in developing DACs.
    Explanation, when you use the word contract or contracts, on there own they are just words, when you apply meaning, as a contract or contracts in a business environment, example business services, you then have business contract or contracts law.
    The same applies to Decentralized Autonomous Corporation, the first 2 words are words, but when you add Corporation that word has laws attached to it, Corporation law, and so on.
    Its these small things that we have to define to make this work, its the small things that make innovation what it is.
    We need to find new words for , Corporation, contract/contracts, shares, shareholders, there are more words like this in the old world before DACs, like i have said before these words and other words have laws attached to them and we need to find new ones.
  • D_LibertarianD_Libertarian Member Posts: 1
    I am no expert of any subject or technology. I'm a simple layman trying to establish a libertarian governing agency. Governing is creating and applying "LAW". I have an interest in this subject. What is Law? Well for my simple view, I like the simple explanation offered by Bastiat in his book The Law, "What Is Law?
    What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense."

    A libertarian law knows no territorial land borders. Every individual is a sovereign autonomous entity collaborating with other sovereign entities in exchanging private, communal property derived social economic benefits under voluntary terms. Every sovereign individual contributes towards the collective organization of defensive law. This will be interesting to watch this development.
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